Busy (Queen) Bee

You May or May not know that Christmas is not my favorite holiday. There is way too much pressure to find the perfect gift for every person on your life. And I find I feel pressured to find all the perfect gifts, too.

That said, I have some wonderful students who pay me weekly for my expertise. They come to my class and have become some of my favorite people. I struggle to find something useful and organic to give them as a thank you for your trust and friendship gift. A happy holidays gift. This year I had two ideas that I’ve made for my students. Yesterday, I made them happen. It took me the better part of the day but I am happy with the products – which shall remain nameless – and all they need is “packaging”. A label and some gift wrap and my class gifts are finished and ready for our party on Friday.

Gift Number 1 – organic bees wax, cocoa butter and essential oil. oil, cocoa butter and essentiare two gifts this

I am sharing only the ingredients because I don’t want to give away the surprise. My students will also receive a second gift …

Gift 2. Coconut oil, Sugar and essential oils.

I know these are quality products made from quality ingredients for the best group of women I have the privilege of teaching every week.

Gone knitting.

WIPs No Longer in Time Out

IMG_4096I’ve actually begun to knit a little bit again. The tendons seem to be healing slowly but surely and I can’t stand NOT knitting! So. Old projects are coming out of “time out” and getting finished. Slowly!

IMG_4093I finished my Frosting Shawl. I love the cable on one edge, a reversible cable. I also like the icord bind off. I like this bind off in general because it makes a nice, substantial edge and it really does finish it well. I knitted my Frosting Shawl with the Manos Allegria colorway that the pattern showed in Ravelry. I love the colorway. I did not love the way the bright blue dye bled. I will try to re-wash it with some soap and see if I can whiten it up again. Ugh. Update: I did wash it again and it’s better but I know that the bright blue bled. I’m still not thrilled but I’m ok with it.

IMG_4097I also finished a little zip-up-the-back sweater for a baby gift. I knitted it in Plymouth Encore, a sturdy and easy care worsted, acrylic and wool blend. I love the red that I picked for this project. The pattern is an “oldie but goodie” that we hand out as a free pattern at my LYS. It is a simple knit and you can choose one of two cables for the center front and sleeves or knit it without cables. The part of this sweater that made me laugh out loud was that it had a zipper and in all of my years of knitting, I have never sewn a zipper into a sweater. Well, now I have! And it was a great success! I’ll post pictures after it’s been shipped and received! Update: the new baby has been born!

I’ve also been working on some charity projects. One of my sweet Friday students asked for hats and mittens for children who attend a Christmas party at an area club. I delivered two hats last Friday and this week I’ll deliver a pair of mittens. Simple, quick and very rewarding to know that every child will go home with a hat and mittens that night.

IMG_4092I pulled out my A Walk Through Aspens wrap. It’s been “away” for a long (long) time. So, A Walk Through Aspens is a beautiful bulky cabled wrap. I am going to “edit” the size of the project and make it into a pillow. I’m not sure exactly how it will work yet, but I’m knitting along … and remembering how much I like cables! This is a beautiful pattern and I am knitting with Cascade Eco+ in a really pretty blueish-grayish. It’ll be really pretty.

I’ve been working on an embroidery project, too. I am finding that I like embroidery – at least simple stuff! I bought a pattern at the Maine Quilt Show several years ago and finally pulled it out thinking it’s a good way to “not knit”. So, I bought some white cotton, interfacing and lots of colors of DMC floss and I’m stitching away. I’ll add some Christmas fabric around it and it’ll be a great Christmas pillow for our house. Next up is an appliqué pattern that I bought the same year. I decided to hand-stitch it … again, “not knitting”. I’ll keep you updated!

I’ve got a couple of thumbs to knit. What are you working on?

 

SNOW!

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We had our first snow Saturday. It’s still only October and this seems pretty early but it was thrilling to see! After living in Florida for ten years, and Ohio before that, the anticipation of winter makes me feel like a little kid again!

I’ve been knitting a little bit but I also am very cognizant of needing to take my re-entry into knitting slowly so that my tendonitis (knitter’s elbow) doesn’t return! So, each day I knit for a very short while and then I do something else. On Friday I bought some new supplies to make an embroidered pillow. I purchased the pattern ages ago (seriously, several years ago when I went on the Maine Quilt Shop Hop. I haven’t been out on a shop hop for at least two years. So, the pattern is at least that old.)

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The pillow, if I can get it done by Christmas, will be for my dear husband. I hope he doesn’t read my blog or I may have just ruined a surprise. Anyway, I’ve traced the design onto the white cotton fabric that I bought and ironed on a thin stabilizer. Now I can stitch the design. Stitching  with the stabilizer will slow me down because it pulls the same muscles that haven’t been feeling well but that’s ok.

And I have finished the knitting portion of a little baby sweater. This is a gift for a new baby. I can’t give too much information but it’s the Zip Up the Back baby sweater. (This pattern is a free pattern that we have at the Yardgoods Center where I work. I am not sure if it’s a Ravelry pattern or not but if you happen to read this and want a copy, I’ll send you one from the store. Just ask!) All I have to do is get a zipper and sew it in. (And sew in all the ends!) It will be sent off as soon as I get it finished and I hope it will be a good surprise. Meanwhile, another of my daughter’s friends has had a baby and I feel like I need to knit something for him, too. I may knit this sweater again. It was quick and easy and I really like it! I made this sweater in Plymouth Yarns Encore worsted in the Ravelry Red colorway. It took two skeins.

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I continue working very slowly on the Frosting shawl in Manos Del Uruguay’s Alegria yarn. Very slowly. It’s difficult to knit only a couple of rows a day but I know it’s what I need to do to heal completely. I am getting there! I am eager to be all better and back in the saddle. I have a shawl/scarf that I “owe” to a friend as a trade of services. I’d love to get it started for her!

No Christmas knitting from my house this year!

Virus Shawl … FO!

This is one of my wonderful Friday knitting students, Annie! Annie’s from East Texas and has the beautiful accent to prove it!  My boss took this photograph of us on Friday after my class. I’m wearing my Virus Shawl for the first time.

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I am really happy with the way the shawl turned out. It’s my first “real” crochet project and I think it’s really pretty. I used two hanks of Malabrigo Sock in the Candombe colorway. I’m not sure why I love it so since green is not really “my color” but I do love it and I was happy to wear it!

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Candombe has greens and purples and a great grellow color all smooshed together to make another great colorway for knitted garments. The way the colors, with very short color changes, move is really quite wonderful and I think I’d even like it as a sweater or other garment.

The pattern for this shawl is a simple chart that you repeat. I memorized it and could just crochet away. It could be made in any weight of yarn. (Since I get hot easily, I most always choose fingering weight yarns for shawls and, increasingly, choose sport or fingering for sweaters, too.) The only stitches are single crochet, double crochet and chain stitches. Simple! Even for me!

Fun! I’m feeling accomplished!

Is There a Thing Called “Knitter’s Elbow?”

IMG_3480I’m entering week four … WEEK FOUR … of not knitting. Nearly four weeks of not knitting is a huge punishment for me. I always knit; every day! Even on those days that I teach all day I go home and knit.

This started at my fiber arts retreat (aka camp). I started to feel a pull in my left elbow but because I was at camp, I just kept knitting. When I got home on August 4th, I began my “rest” from knitting expecting a quick healing since it was a short time that it “hurt”. Well, here we are, three weeks and a little bit more later. And I still can’t knit.

What’s a knitter to do when she can’t knit?

IMG_3502 I bought a little bit of linen fabric at the Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine a few weeks ago. I also bought some needles and some DMC floss in six or seven different colors and an embroidery hoop. With my Making Magazine, “Color” issue in hand, I cut the fabric and started stitching. I’m making a project bag. It’s not knitting but it’s better than nothing! And it will be useful when I get back to knitting sometime soon.

I’ve been to pick blueberries (with my right hand!) and bought some peaches. I’ve made blueberry “Afternoon Cake” (two of them) and blueberry muffins. The recipe is in another Making Magazine “Dots”. I even made a peach pie with almost all of the four pounds of peaches. It was delicious! DH and I made blueberry ice cream, too … it goes very well with peach pie! And we’ve been getting pounds and pounds of squash both zucchini and summer from our CSA half-share. There are zucchini bread muffins and loaves in the freezer. So many frozen baked goods that we may need to buy a stand alone freezer!

 

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And today I finished my first Christmas gift. I can’t tell you what it is or who it’s for or I’d have to kill you (not really, but you know what I mean!) But suffice it to say that it’s a sewn and quilted gift for a very special person. It was the messiest project ever and I took it to a laundromat to wash and dry before I could put it into my machine to finish the drying process. It still filled up my lint thingy with lots of tiny pieces of thread. But I’m happy with the end result. Now it just needs a tag and some photographs taken. I’ll show more pictures after Christmas!

I’ve also read three books! I posted (here) about A Stash of One’s Own by Clara Parkes that I finished and was very moved by. I also finished my book club book The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn which I loved. I couldn’t put it down. Since I’m not knitting, I read it in record time. And I just finished The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg. That’s THREE books this month! You can tell I’m not knitting!

Next project is … oh, sorry, I can’t tell you that either!

 

Addition by Subtraction Lit-a-long

 

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Charcoal and White are dark and light. Gray speckle is blender. Gold is “pop” of color!

Several of us at the Yardgoods Center are working on the Addition by Subtraction Lit-a-long by TryStitchual Designs. This is an intriguing and unique MKAL (mystery knit along) as far as I am aware. There is a wonderfully funny and clever mystery story that accompanies a MKAL.

The MKAL requires that you start with four yarns. Fingering weight. One in a light color, one in a dark, the third unifies the two colors and the fourth is a pop of color. I used two stashed yarns that I bought last summer at the Maine Fiber Frolic and two new yarns that I bought at the shop.

Chapter One – I really love garter stitch. This garter stitch section uses all four colors and is broken up by three columns of stitches with twisted stitches on the edges and a knit or purl stitch in the center. There are also short row wedges in the “pop” color. At one side is an i-cord edge (see below) and an edge that contains a regular yarn over sequence of stitches.

IMG_2769The i-cord edge hides the yarns as they are carried up the side of the garment. It’s a brilliant idea! I’ll admit to having a bit of a challenge getting the i-cord edge started, but I figured it out in a couple of rows! There is a TON of knitting in this chapter! Phew!

I was almost finished with this when Chapter Two was released.

Chapter Two – I’m starting this a little bit behind and so I “rushed” to finish chapter one and get chapter two started. Chapter two uses three colors. The “pop” has been cut and set aside for this section. We are heading on with a slip stitch section between sections of alternating three-color garter stitch. This was a challenging start because I was following the written instructions rather than the charted instructions. I found out that the chart was the better way to go and had no trouble after the third row. I love this section and it makes me happy to see how interesting it is.

Chapter two also has a lot of knitting.

I am hardly half-way through Chapter two when Chapter three is released. No way I was going to catch up on this week … I had a shawl to knit as a store sample for the Maine Yarn Cruise that takes place beginning on Memorial Day weekend. Oh well. As I tell my students, “knitting is not a race”, time for this teacher to take a dose of her own medicine!

Chapter Three – This section is called the Illusion Section and as such, the knitting looks like an illusion. I think this may be my favorite section yet. I don’t think I’ve ever seen something like this and it’s fascinating!

Once again a color (this time the speckled “blender” colorway) has been cut and we are now working with two colors only. The two colors remaining, light and dark, are alternated in pairs of rows. The second of which alternates between knit and purl stitches. It’s fantastic!

When I was ready to start chapter three, the clue for chapter four had already been released so I am now a full week behind! I’m laughing at myself for keeping track.

IMG_2938Chapter Four – OK, this chapter was released and I hadn’t even begun the previous one. I am telling you, there is a lot of knitting each week. If you work at a job or are a stay-at-home parent, or do anything but knit, you will not have been able to keep up with this MKAL! I  am a relatively quick knitter and I’m waaaaaay behind!

Chapter four is a lace section. Both sides of the section are the same (it’s reversible!) and the i-cord and yarn over ends are still going on as through the whole project. The lace section is very simple and very graphic (I think that’s the term) … it’s not lacey lace, it’s squared off and linear. I’ve just now gotten to begin it and I think it’ll be a good addition to the shawl. I’m getting closer and closer with each row and each decrease. It’s repetitive enough that I can remember this section’s pattern so I don’t have to count every stitch and watch the graph too closely.

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A stitch is dropped at the end of each section … creating a “line” parallel to the i-cord edge.

Did I mention that at the end of each chapter, a stitch has been dropped?

The stitch between the columns of twisted stitches is dropped after Chapter One. A second is dropped after Chapter Two. I happen to like dropping stitches and seeing how that changes the look of the stitches. There’s one more stitch to drop at the end of section four. With twisted stitches on either side, the dropped stitch is “controlled”. I am eager to finish and block this baby!

Having gotten this far writing about this project, I wanted to let you know that there is an Epilogue. Yes, there is! The epilogue seems to consist of an i-cord that is about 84 inches long that is woven through the yarn over side of the shawl. The pattern wants the i-cord to be in color C which for my shawl is the gold color or the “pop” that was only in the first chapter. Yippee! I was hoping that color would come back!

I’ll update you when I have finished and blocked the shawl!

Gone Knitting!

 

You can find out more about my knitting projects on Ravelry. I’m “lindar” on Ravelry!

Every Day Should be Earth Day

It’s finally a beautiful sunny Sunday in Maine. I’ve had a long week at the Yarn shop and I am sitting outside with two of the three dogs, my knitting, and watching my husband build a birdbath with a thousand pound (or so) hunk of granite. A marvelous day to spend outside in the sunshine with our little family. Lola has decided to stay inside. Too many scary things outside that she can’t control. Ha! Ha!

We were taking in the last week about trash. Consuming stuff that leaves behind trash. Packaging, plastic, food scraps, stuff. We like our stuff. We take it to the beach, on vacation in the car, to the theater, we take stuff everywhere. And often we leave it there. That, in the olden days was called being a litter bug. (Does anybody remember the commercial, “please, please, don’t be a litter bug ‘cuz every litter bit hurts”?)

We live on a lake. We have snowmobilers and ice fishermen (and women) in the winter and all sorts of fisher-people and boaters in the other months. And every season we find their stuff in our lake and on the shores. We have found dead animals (yes, really!), garbage, balls, clothing and even human waste. It’s gross. Not to mention polluting. It threatens the clarity of our lake water. The noise can be deafening, too; Radios blaring, vehicles and boats with noisy engines/mufflers that zoom by. Beer cans and bottles.

We all have a responsibility to care for this precious planet that we call home. For our own sake and for the sake of our children and grandchildren. As a good Girl Scout, I learned to stay on the path and to carry in/carry out. My parents taught me to clean up after myself and leave the place better than I found it. I try to make that happen everywhere I go. We pick up trash on the beach. On walks in the woods. When we are out on our boat. We recycle. We bring our own bags when we shop. We bring bags for our trash when we travel and we find trash containers at the beach.

If we all do our part, maybe we can leave a healthy vibrant planet Earth for generations to come. Celebrate each day as Earth Day. We only get one chance. I’m stepping off my soapbox now.

Gone knitting.